Ban on log­ging set to be lifted next year

The Myanmar Times - - Front Page - KYI KYI SWAY news­room@mm­times.com

The sus­pen­sion on log­ging will end next April, but au­thor­i­ties say pro­duc­tion will com­mence at re­duced rates and with tighter con­trols.

THE tem­po­rary sus­pen­sion of log­ging in Myan­mar’s forested ar­eas is set to be lifted in April, with pro­duc­tion next fi­nan­cial year to re­sume at re­duced lev­els, ac­cord­ing to Myanma Tim­ber En­ter­prise deputy di­rec­tor U Aye Cho Thaung.

There are about 19,000 teak trees and 530,000 hard­wood trees for po­ten­tial log­ging next fis­cal year, he said. Each teak tree is ca­pa­ble of pro­duc­ing up to 1.2 tons of tim­ber, he added, but pro­duc­tion would be re­stricted to just 15,000 tons of teak next year and 350,000 tons of hard­wood.

In a bid to curb de­for­esta­tion, the gov­ern­ment im­ple­mented a na­tion­wide ban on log­ging for the 20162017 fi­nan­cial year. Ma­jor forested ar­eas, like the moun­tain ranges in Rakhine, Shan and Kachin states, were in­cluded in the sus­pen­sion. A log­ging ban of 10 years will be main­tained in Bago Yoma moun­tain range.

The UK-based watch­dog group the En­vi­ron­men­tal In­ves­ti­ga­tion Agency re­leased a re­port last year that said close to one-half of Myan­mar is cov­ered in nat­u­ral for­est – but that it is shrink­ing at rapid pace.

About 1.7 mil­lion hectares of for­est cover was lost from 2001 to 2013, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Ac­cord­ing to gov­ern­ment fig­ures, ex­ports in the 2013-14 fi­nan­cial year were worth US$637.5 mil­lion, but it is likely much greater given the high lev­els of il­le­gal trade, largely with China and Thai­land.

Since 2014 ex­ports of raw tim­ber has been banned un­der Myan­mar law.

“The sus­pen­sion of raw ma­te­rial ex­port will con­tinue,” U Aye Cho Thaung con­firmed.

The re­sump­tion of log­ging will be man­aged by the state-owned Myan­mar Tim­ber En­ter­prise, he said.

U Win Myo Thu, co-founder and man­ager of the en­vi­ron­men­tal NGO Ecodev, said yes­ter­day that it was ex­pected that pro­duc­tion was go­ing to restart, but it should be done with “greater re­stric­tions” than in the past.

Photo: AFP

Chil­dren sit on teak logs on the out­skirts of Yan­gon.

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